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IMF accusations of US protectionism “rubbish” – Trump’s top trade official

IMF accusations of US protectionism “rubbish” – Trump’s top trade official
Warnings of Washington’s trade protectionism by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde and others are “rubbish,” according to US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

The billionaire investor, hired by President Trump as commerce secretary to curb the $500 billion trade deficit inherited from Barack Obama’s administration, has accused US trade partners of protectionism in an interview with The Financial Times.

“The response is very simple: we are the least protectionist of the major areas. We are far less protectionist than Europe. We are far less protectionist than Japan. We are far less protectionist than China,” Ross told the newspaper.

“We also have trade deficits with all three of those places. So they talk free trade. But in fact what they practice is protectionism. And every time we do anything to defend ourselves, even against the puny obligations that they have, they call that protectionism. It’s rubbish,” he added.

Last week, Christine Lagarde said global economic growth has sped up, but "protectionism is clearly a threat," she warned. The IMF chief did not single out any country.

According to Ross, Lagarde and others are trying to protect the system that let others enjoy trade surpluses, covered by the US deficit.

“We like it that way. So we don’t want you to disrupt it. That’s what they are really saying when you strip it away,” Ross said.

“That’s the bottom line. But that’s not going to happen. Our tolerance for continuing to be the deficit that eats the surpluses of the whole rest of the world — the president is not tolerant of that anymore,” he added.

Donald Trump took the Oval Office pledging to reduce the trade deficit, create jobs in the US and return manufacturing to the country.